they aspire to be secondary characters and get serious pagetime
- 35,218 words (if poetry, lines) long
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone out there! I hope you're staying warm. Here in Boulder, temperatures "struggled to get out of the teens," to quote a winter weather advisory I read yesterday (and I thought, "Ah, struggling to get out of the teens. Sounds like most of my college career"). I woke up, saw the snow coming down, and promptly went back to sleep.
One of the things I am thankful for, speaking of Giving Thanks, is the opportunity to sleep in and do whatever I want all Thanksgiving Day long. I love my family and miss them, and I miss their traditional epic potlucks (oh, Gods, the shrimp-and-mirliton casserole), but I don't miss how the High Holy Days of Familial Obligation loomed over me and squashed me flat. It's so, so good to have a day off from everything.
Well, almost everything. Cat-sitting continues while our semi-next-door friends are out of town. Their cat is a beautiful, friendly, funny, and terribly needy kitty who will happily spend hours cuddling and nuzzling and dabbing a paw at your face if the quality of your petting is deemed inadequate. Learning how to get my writing done while making the kitty feel sufficiently loved has been an amusing challenge. He wants very much to drape himself over my forearms, and I am using those. But we manage.
Speaking of writing, that's another thing I don't get a day off from. Which is fine. Enjoyable, even. Which is sort of why I do this writing thing for an attempted living. A day with nothing to do but write? Heaven.
I'm about three-fourths the way through today's NaNoWriMo session, which I'll be returning to just as soon as I get done with this post. Today's session has been fueled by Plot Expansion Strategy #15: Promote a throwaway character to a secondary character. In other words, enlarge their role within the story.
The sometime-throwaway character I'm playing with is Perihelion Peculiar, of Perrie Peculiar's Private Peepers. Her original role, buried safely in the backstory, was in unearthing the main character's dad's cheating ways. Now the main character has contacted her again for help in figuring out what's up with the Director of the sleep research lab. He's scary, he's up to something, and he has begun showing up everywhere the main character goes. She's understandably freaked out about it.
I'm also making use of this strategy to flesh out the Director's own backstory. Apparently he's got an extensive criminal record, mostly white collar to be sure but with the occasional bloodstain. He's bad news. Stupid bad news. He's going to be bad news for everyone involved in this novel. If only I could figure out what, precisely, he wants.
Well, back to it for at least another 700 words.
they live just down the ice floe from us
- 2,996 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 31,328 words (if poetry, lines) long
The weather's getting a head start on tomorrow. It's been overcast all day, and now it's misting down a light sort of rain/sleet mix that's turning everything cement and asphalt into a death trap. I nearly injured myself just walking next door (well, two apartment complexes down) for the late-night cat-sitting visit. There were places where I couldn't walk at all, just "skate"--which is to say, hunker down into good derby position and just slide my sneakers forward very, very carefully.
Speaking of skating, there were plans bubbling through the league to have a Thanksgiving morning "fun skate" at our usual practice location--but with tomorrow's winter weather advisory and the ice only getting worse and the temperatures not predicted to climb above freezing tomorrow, I expect it ain't happening. Well, it might happen, but it'll most likely happen without me. Brrr.
So... a good day to catch up on NaNoWriMo, right? I have a bit of catching up to do. According to the "At this rate you will finish on..." metric, I'm 10 days behind. But according to the "Words per day to finish on time" metric, I only need to increase my daily session from the original 3,125 plan up to about 3,500 or so. This is entirely doable. I've introduced a new plot twist that should be good for at least another 5,000 words, and with any luck it will spawn further plot twists and maybe even a plot resolution.
And speaking of NaNoWriMo: Look look look! I have a title now.
In other writing news, "...Not with a Bang, But a Snicker" (the one about the snow-glue apocalypse) came home from its previous outing this weekend, and it's gone right back out tonight. #WriterDoingWriterThings
recovery day is slow but productive
Hi Boulder! I'm back.
It was a very long drive back, even longer than the drive down. This was because I stopped for dinner as well as lunch, and also because I missed the State Highway 219 component of my route and went some miles out of my way. This was how I discovered the Santa Rosa Triangle. It is less famous than the Bermuda Triangle, but much more relevant to the interests of a driver on US Highway 84 North who suddenly finds, after passing under I-40, that she's in fact on US Highway 84 South without any recollection of how this change was accomplished.
I got home last night around 11:45, babbled a little at my very patient husband, then collapsed in the bed. And I stayed there until well nigh ten this morning. The rest of the day was spent moving at about that speed, which is what recovery looks like.
So the big question is this: Was a four-hour roller derby clinic in Las Cruces really worth the 20-hour round-trip drive from Boulder? The answer, of course (of course!) is HELLS YEAH. The clinic was led by skaters from Victorian Roller Derby (Melbourne, Australia), the league that took third place in WFTDA's 2015 international championships. The four hours were tightly packed with solo blocking, two-person blocking, evasive jamming, and aggressive jamming skills. I took lots of notes which I will hopefully be able to read when it is time to transcribe and organize them for my league's benefit. It was an amazing opportunity and I'm glad I was able to take advantage of it.
Moving slow or not, I still managed to add 3,133 words to my NaNoWriMo novel. It's been a good recovery day.
YPP Weekend Blockade Roundup for Nov 21, plus bonus Seal o' Piracy content
This weekend, as usual, several islands across the English-speaking oceans are up for grabs. That's what the weekend blockade scene is all about. On the forums, only Cerulean Parley is particularly talkative about it: here's Babylon's blockade intent for Cnossos, Riding High's intent to defend Cnossos, and Dragon Quest's announcement that they're not defending Tinga from Madame Yu Jian's fleet. Meanwhile, there's a couple blockades today on Emerald and Meridian each, and an event on Meridian's Garden Cradle scheduled for noon on Sunday.
Before we scroll it down to the complete and detailed blockade schedule, let's talk a moment about the November 2015 Seal o' Piracy, before it's not November anymore.
Don't be worried that it's so late in the month. This one's easy. You get it just by...
Completing two (2) sessions of foraging.
Everything normal counts. That is, you don't earn it in the Cursed Isles, but you earn it just about any other way you get to that puzzle. You can job with a crew that's foraging for fruit, and perform your labor dutifully. You can participate enthusiastically in a couple Buried Treasure expeditions (a couple, rather than one, because generally the expo only gives you one session at the puzzle). You can even forage for empty boxes on Tuesday, when the foraging puzzle is available even to those without subscriptions or labor badges.
Now, freeplay foraging is a little tricky. Although the puzzle becomes available to those without credentials, the "Apply" button next to any "Foraging with a Crew" job offers does not. So you'll have to finagle your way aboard a ship docked at an uninhabited, unbuilt island by some other strategy. (Sending a polite request via /tell to the jobbing officer has been known to yield favorable results.) Once you do, those practice foraging sessions do indeed count toward your Seal. I have verified this with Millefleur on the Meridian Ocean.
But that's much less fun than actually foraging valuable commodities, isn't it? The subscription/badge is totally worth it, especially since you can then take foraging jobs all the time, or sign on to work a crafting job at your crew's Distilling Stall or the like. Still, good to know you can get this badge without spending money. The holiday season is coming up, after all, making spirits bright but budgets somewhat tight.
Anyway, scroll on for the blockade schedule. Have fun out there!
Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.
Doubloon Ocean Blockades
*** Saturday, November 21 ***
*** Sunday, November 22 ***
12:00 p.m. - Garden Cradle, Meridian Ocean
Event: 7 rounds, sinking!
Hosted by: Dragon Lords
Subscription Ocean Blockades
*** Saturday, November 21 ***
all of the driving and none of the signs
It's as I suspected: This week's Friday Fictionette will show up on Saturday. While I suppose I could have gotten it done and published if I'd gotten right to work after checking into my motel at 9:30 PM, the reality is... Ten-hour drive, y'all. Ten. Hour. Drive. Solo. It just seemed a better use of my time to take a walk, find some dinner, and relax.
I'm staying in the vicinity of University and I-10, which is having a strange effect on my nostalgia circuits. On a lizard-brain gut instinct level, I'm absolutely certain I'm back in at the University of Washington and simultaneously about 15 minutes away from my parents' New Orleans-area home via the interstate. In any case, a ten-minute walk along University brought me within hearing range of electric guitars and a country-rock beat, which reeled me into a sports bar called The Game. I had a beer, ate far too much, and enjoyed the band's original tunes extravagantly.
The drive from Boulder to Las Cruces went fairly well. I did the three and a half hours to Raton easily, stopped for lunch at Pappa's Sweet Shop & Restaurant, then proceeded to drive the remaining six or so hours straight through. I'm not sure how that was possible, but I'm happy to attribute it to the coffee at Pappa's.
The only real shenanigans occurred just west of the little New Mexico town of Vaughn. That's where I missed my turn to remain on US Hwy 54 West/South and instead continued some five miles on along 285 North. Only I didn't know it, because for that stretch of highway, there were absolutely no signs whatsoever indicating what highway I was on. There weren't even speed limit signs. There was nothing but the back-sides of the ridiculously frequent WRONG WAY signs.
Then I got to the next little town and continued to have no clue whatsoever, because the main drag was merely labeled US HIGHWAY. Just that. No number, nothing. Thankfully, once I got just past that little town, there was a cluster of signs indicating I was on 285 and 60 (but not 54), so I got suspicious and turned around.
Encino, New Mexico! Where being lost isn't a bug; it's a feature!
Anyway, that was the only hitch. Otherwise, it was an easy drive and a gorgeous one, sunny and surprisingly warm for mid-November-- a huge contrast from the looming snow clouds I left behind in Colorado. And now I am likely to fall over, so please excuse me while I make sure the falling happens over something soft. Like a motel bed.
get the protagonist up a tree and throw an antagonist at her
- 22,622 words (if poetry, lines) long
Today's two hours of NaNoWriMo progress netted me 4,151 words, a good few hundred less than yesterday because of the fits and starts. It's not that I had much more sense of where the story was going yesterday that I did today. It's more that yesterday I was able to babble on despite not knowing what came next, whereas today the not-knowing stumped me a bit more. Also I probably put a couple hundred words that didn't get counted in Scrivener's "Document Notes" box, just talking to myself about what might happen next.
I feel like yesterday and today combined to make a great plot twist. Yesterday, the main character realized that a particular secondary character was really her only friend right now, and her only ally in the conflict situation. Today, experimenting with a scene including an antagonist I just made up today, I realized that it was likely the antagonist would cause that secondary character to be eliminated for a good chunk of the book. And because this would be right and proper and a fitting adherence to good conflict-escalation procedure (Allen Guthrie's Infamous Writing Tips, No. 20: "Torture your protagonist. It’s not enough for him to be stuck up a tree. You must throw rocks at him while he figures out how to get down"), I went with it.
The antagonist, the director of the sleep clinic where the protagonist's mother has been going, just came on stage today, and he's chillingly similar to creepy bureaucrat John Wither from That Hideous Strength. So it would appear that the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments is running the psychiatric research lab from The Lathe of Heaven. I did not foresee this happening. The moment a disembodied head shows up, I am out.
Tomorrow will of necessity be a short writing day. I'm undertaking a ten-hour road trip on my lonesome for the sake of a roller derby clinic in Las Cruces. It is going to be awesome, but it does mean I'm not going to be at the computer much. I'll try to finish up tomorrow's Friday Fictionette during those times when I take a break from driving, like at lunch and tea time (I get tea time, y'all, I have decreed it), but there is a possibility it won't actually be released until Saturday morning.
Just so's you know!
near five thousand words and also some peach pepper pie
- 18,471 words (if poetry, lines) long
I remain woefully behind the NaNoWriMo curve. But today I found out how many words I can log in two dedicated hours of nanobabbling. As it turns out, that number is 4,865. Yes, I can type really fast! Also, the internal editor is turned entirely off, so it can't butt in and tell me, "You already explained that last scene, you don't need to have your character explain it again," or, "You realize that this bit of dialogue is just an excuse for you to figure out the backstory's timeline, right?" Internal editor doesn't get to say that stuff, so I just keep typing.
As usual, I'm not sure where the story's going to go tomorrow. But I jotted down some questions that occurred to me during today's session, and those will probably help get me pointed in the right direction.
In other news, my sprained wrist/thumb has not prevented me using the typewriter. Turns out, it's pretty painless. I don't even use my left thumb when I type. It just sits there and watches the right thumb do all the space-bar work. So I'm finally getting that October 2015 Fictionette Artifact done for them what's got one coming to 'em. Yay!
Typing on a manual typewriter is weird. It's not just because I've used the Dvorak layout for more than a decade now, and am no longer reliable to touch-type in Qwerty. I'm actually starting to get Qwerty back so long as I'm on the typewriter. It's a context thing. No, what makes the manual typewriter weird is the way I instinctively try to hit ALT-TAB on it when I switch between it and my laptop. You know. ALT-TAB. To get back to the typewriter "window." *facepalm*
In other other news, I organized our freezer. It's the sort that's one big below-fridge drawer in which everything gets dumped, which means it's hard to find stuff, especially if you keep a lot of ice-packs on hand to bring to roller derby practice just in case. So I pulled most everything out in order to put it all back following some semblance of logic. I discovered two things:
- There are still like five 1-lb packages of breakfast sausage down there. WHATEVER DID I DO TO DESERVE SUCH LARGESS O UNIVERSE I AM NOT WORTHY.
- There is way too much stuff in there that's been there for way too long and needs to either get used up or thrown away.
The following recipe/experiment arose from an attempt to use up some of that surplus.
Peach-Pepper Pie (muffin form)
- Set one sheet of puff pastry out to defrost. I believe I acquired the puff pastry package when a friend moved out of state and I helped her re-home many of the edible contents of her kitchen. The box was still unopened when I pulled it out of the freezer tonight.
- Put some peaches on to simmer over medium heat. Some years ago when I not only had a CSA share from Abbondanza Organic Seeds and Produce but also a fruit share add-on from Ela Family Farms, I found myself overrun with peaches. So I sliced up a bunch of them into sandwich bags, and I stuffed the sandwich bags into a gallon-sized freezer bag. This experiment used up one sandwich bag full of frozen peach slices. I was worried they might be freezer-burned after all this time, and it might indeed have been an issue if I was going to eat them plain. But instead...
- Stir in a crap-ton of sugar. It came out to two heaping soup spoons of brown sugar and two of plain granulated sugar.
- Stir in some pickled chili peppers. About one and a half heaping soup spoons of MMLocal's High Desert Peppers (mild).
- Season with black and red pepper, then continue simmering until mixture is thick. I like pepper. I put a bunch in. Anyway, I let the whole mess simmer until the pastry was tolerably defrosted, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Add 1 tbl butter, 1 egg, and some oatmeal. Stir. Four big soup-spoons of McCann's Quick Cooking Irish oatmeal (or whatever kind of quick-cook oatmeal you've got in your pantry), mainly to soak up any liquid that hadn't simmered away.
- Apply cooking spray to a 6-hole muffin tin. Line bottom of each hole with pastry. I was going to do a small pie tin, but I was too impatient with the pastry. I tried to unfold it when it wasn't quite defrosted, and it cracked into three strips. So I cut those strips up into twelve squares that fit the muffin holes nicely.
- Spoon in pie mixture. Not too much. You want your top crust and bottom crust to meet along the sides.
- Layer a piece of roasted chili on top of pie mixture. I also had a sandwich bag of roasted mild pueblo chilis in the freezer, because while I love them on everything, I still never manage to eat a whole package of them before mold sets in. So I've learned to parcel out most of them into small freezer bags and defrost when ready.
- Cover with another layer of pastry. Really smoosh it down. Don't be shy. Again, you want this top crust to meet up with the bottom so that the "muffin" doesn't fall apart too much when you go to eat it.
- Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
Let sit to cool for five or ten minutes, then carefully pry them out so you can devour them. Feeds one very greedy cook over the course of one two-hour NaNoWriMo session.
a litany of distractions you may enjoy
It's been a very slow Monday, full of distractions and laziness. Here are some of the things I've been distracted with:
Two Dots - It's an app for Android and iPhone. It is also a very addictive game. I downloaded Bluestacks specifically so I could play this app despite my lack of smartphone. Then I downloaded Windroye when an update to Two Dots proved glitchy on Bluestacks. "Why don't you just buy a tablet?" Well, for two reasons. One, perhaps quixotically, I want all my things to work on one device. Secondly, I'm not buying new hardware just to play a free game, darn it.
The nice thing about Two Dots is that lives regenerate at a rate of one per twenty minutes, which means the distraction has a limited lifetime. Use up your lives, get back to work. Except now that I've got it running on both Android emulators (having rolled back the update on Bluestacks so that it's not glitchy there), and each "device" generates and maintains a separate life count, the distraction's duration is potentially quite long.
I promise to be a lot more disciplined about it tomorrow, though.
Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair and sequels - Overall, this series is rollicking good fun. What Douglas Adams did for traditional SF with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Fforde does here for English literature overall. It focuses on the classics, but it gets its licks in on all the genres. Fan fiction, vanity publishing, and the oral tradition are not forgotten either. The story takes place in a version of the U.K. which benefits/suffers from an alternate history to ours, undoubtedly because time travel shenanigans are going on all the time. Also interfictional shenanigans--characters commonly pass in between the real world and multiple fictional ones. The books have flaws, no doubt, but the ride overall is a good on. The plots are surprisingly tightly constructed. It's hard to put these books down even on the reread.
I have copies up through One of Our Thursdays is Missing (2011), which book I am about to begin rereading. It's about time I picked up the next one, The Woman Who Died a Lot (2012). I just now tried to visit one of the websites advertised on the back of One of Our Thursdays is Missing but the domain, www.thursdaynext.com, appears no longer related to the book. One can get so behind the times.
"My father had a face that could stop a clock" is a first line that deserves to be considered in the company of all those other first lines. "The primroses were over." "Call me Ishmael." "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit." "There was a boy named Eustace Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." Any first lines you like.
Reasoning with Vampires - Dana has a Tumblr. On that Tumblr, she dissects Twilight. She diagrams its sentences, critiques its commas, reminds us that sentences are not minivans, and scolds irrelevant parentheticals for interrupting the flow of the narrative--such as it is. She holds up for ridicule and horror those passages that best display everything that's wrong with the book's central romance. Might be the sort of blog that only a dedicated language geek could love, I don't know. I'm a fairly dedicated language geek. Gods forfend I ever abuse a comma again. (Whatcha doin' there, little comma?)
Dana's way with a line-edit makes me laugh out loud, sometimes for long uncontrollable minutes. Reading many posts in one sitting has a cumulative effect similar to I Can Has Cheezburger?--the funny bits are even funnier for having followed the funny bits before.
I got on a kick of rereading RwV from its very first post because Cleolinda, queen of Twilight recaps, recently livetweeted her experience reading the genderswapped follow-up Life and Death.
Hey, I never said my pastimes were particularly noble. I laugh a lot, though.
So... like I said, tomorrow I will be more disciplined. Especially since Friday I need to leave on a roller derby road trip at like 2 PM, which means all the Friday things need to be done done DONE by then. But today was Monday, and sometimes you get Distracted Niki on Mondays.
the future's so fast i gotta wear skates
- 12,613 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 933 words (if poetry, lines) long
It's Friday, so I've got a fictionette for y'all. "Future's So Bright," in which the curse of psychic powers messes with one's social life and also one's optical prescription, is available in both ebook and audiobook form for those who wish to chuck a buck or three at the Friday Fictionettes project. The usual excerpt is also available--try before you buy! Patrons get access to a brand new one of these things every first through fourth Friday; everyone else gets one of 'em on the last day of each month. Any of the links in this paragraph will take you to a page where you can subscribe if you so desire.
I discovered this week that it's a lot easier to get a Friday Fictionette up on time if I've been faithfully putting in my 25 minutes a day on it every single day. The fictionette itself was drafted by Tuesday, the cover art done on Wednesday, the draft polished up on Thursday, and the MP3 and PDF produced on Friday along with the usual excerpts.
NaNoWriMo is also easier to accomplish if I put in my scheduled time each time a scheduled time comes round. Unfortunately, I slipped up a bit with it this week. Once again, I've been moving slowly through my days, leaving too much to do for the evenings when I have no energy to do them. So I didn't move the novel's word count at all yesterday, and have only made it through about a thousand words so far today.
It is unlikely that I will make significant progress tomorrow, as I will be in Castle Rock all day participating in that league's annual Fall Down Mix-Up rolller derby tournament. But I will bring my backpack with its usual contents, and if there is time between bouts I might jot down a few sentences. A non-zero amount of words is winning the day!
Matter of fact, I was working on NaNoWriMo at my very first roller derby experience. I was sitting in the audience at the 2011 championships, laptop open and accumulating words during halftime. It'll be just like old times, y'all.
Now, considering that I'll need to leave Boulder at 7:30 in order to get to the Fairgrounds by 9:00, I should probably wrap this up and go to bed. Enjoy your weekend, and if you're around, come watch us skate in Castle Rock tomorrow!
wine, disappointment, ambition, persistence, more wine
- 1,200 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 4,558 words (if poetry, lines) long
- 11,665 words (if poetry, lines) long
Got off to a slow start today. Might have been because it was so cold out--Boulder finally got some snow, and snow makes me want to hibernate. Could also have something to do with the righteously exhausting roller derby practice I had last night. In any case, I slept late, I dawdled a bit, I moved very slowly.
But here's where I'm at now: Two thirds the way through today's NaNoWriMo chunk-o-text, three-and-a-half hours of my workday five done, two half-glasses of red wine toward silly, and one new rejection letter to file away.
Alas, after triumphing over my year of resistance with a gorgeous completed revision, I ultimately received a rejection letter for "Caroline's Wake" from the editor who'd invited me to submit that rewrite. If you also do this freelance fiction writing thing, you won't be too shocked, I hope. This is a thing that happens. A revision request isn't necessarily a promise to buy the results. In fact, it's almost never a promise to buy. It's disappointing, of course, but the story's much better for the revision. It'll have a better chance next time I send it out than it would have had previously.
I won't send it out immediately. The rejection letter included some feedback that gave me pause. I'll see if I can't do some small tweaks in response to that feedback to prevent the problem cited from being a problem for the next slush reader who sees it.
No, the rejection letter did not drive me to drink. Please do not think that. It's just, wine is tasty, and I have some wine here, and I have nowhere to be tonight. Wine pairs nicely with popcorn. Popcorn seasoned with Cajun Land and curry powder. With red wine. My NaNoWriMo characters are also drinking red wine. I have to keep them company.
Where was I? Ah. Yes. So...
I'm also giving some serious thought to converting another story of mine to a form of interactive fiction. There's a brand new web-zine out there, Sub-Q, the interactive magazine for interactive fiction, and they're hungry for submissions. I think "Keeping Time" would be perfect for them, but it needs some work to at least prepare an interactivity proposal. I should probably play a little with Twine just to get a feel for what the kids these days are doing. But I'm thinking something like travelogue-style pop-ups for items and people whom the main character interacts with, a constant sense of the passage of time despite time being weird when you continue on a one-way trip through different worlds, maybe some choice as to which worlds the character visits but with a certain inevitability about the ultimate outcome...
I don't know. I'm still brainstorming.
But not tonight. Tonight I still need to log about 900 more words on the NaNoWriMo novel. And it's nearly midnight, so, really, I need to get back to it.
I do wish the room wasn't spinning so. Stupid wine. Tasty, tasty, stupid wine.